ONEONTA – Though Phase One of “un-PAUSE” is limited to construction, manufacturing and curbside retail, Al Rubin, chair, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Board, wants to make sure all businesses are ready to begin the process of rebuilding the local economy.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “Now is the time for innovation and creativity. Now is not the time to be shy. We need to be sharing all these ideas.”
This afternoon, county board Chairman David Bliss announced that Otsego County businesses and industry have been included in Phase One of the state’s reopening from the COVID-19 lockdown, effective this Friday, May 15.
COOPERSTOWN –Two weeks after high school boys allegedly attacked another student and shouted homophobic slurs, the Cooperstown Board of Trustees voted in its meeting this morning “unanimously and loudly” to strengthen a 2016 proclamation that the village welcomes people of all backgrounds and does not tolerate acts of bigotry.
“I think it’s important to reiterate how much we in Cooperstown deplore racist and homophobic behavior,” said Richard Sternberg, one of the Trustees who spearheaded the action and vote. “I found it very heartening we did this.”
“Welcome home to Cooperstown!” declares Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, as – for the first time since her March election – she greets Santa and Mrs. Claus as they arrive at their Pioneer Park cottage in a horse-drawn carriage. The day afternoon Thanksgiving, good boys and girls came from all over the area to welcome the Jolly Old Elf, ushering in the Christmas season. At right, Brynlee Burr, 4, and her mom, Brittany, were decked out in their holiday finest to keep warm and wait for the parade to bring Santa to town. Santa will be in his cottage over the weekend and until Christmas Eve give hear all his young Cooperstown friends related their holiday wishes. (Libby Cudmore, AllOTSEGO.com)
State Zigged To Democrats,
But County Zagged To GOP
The Wall Street Journal headline was sly: “Blue Wave Breaks Softly.”
The article reported that, as of Nov. 6, Election Night, Democrats gained 27 Congressional seats in the midterms, regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
That pales compared to Democrats losing 63 in the first Obama midterms in 2010, and losing the House as well; still, even one-vote control is control. (As canvassing ensued, it looks like Democrats may end up with plus 35 to 40 new seats; still, not the GOP Armageddon some were salivating over. And Republicans increased their margin in the U.S. Senate.)
Whatever – nationwide. But when you look at New York State government, the Blue Wave broke hard Upstate, not least over Otsego County, with some unnerving implications.
The state Senate zigged, turning from enduringly Republican to Democratic, a feat accomplished for only two years in a half-century.
But Otsego County zagged: With the loss of Democratic Assemblyman Bill Magee of Nelson, the one state senator and four assemblymen representing our county are all Republicans, about to dive into a Democratic sea.
That can’t be good.
State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who will be operating without Magee’s steady support in the Democratic House for the first time since 1991, said he’s used to working in a bipartisan manner.
In an interview, he used the term “equitable distribution” twice, hoping the Democrats will extend the concept that has allowed the state’s largesse to be enjoyed statewide.
That would be great, but we’ll see.
More of an issue than Democrats and Republicans is Upstaters vs. downstaters, Seward observed. Only three of the state’s 30 senators are from north of Westchester County. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
The GOP county chairman, Vince Casale, addressed the legislative picture. Now in control of Assembly, Senate and Governor’s Office, he predicts Democrats will seek to legalize marijuana as soon as January, and will press for adoption of the NY Plan, Medicare-like coverage for all Empire Staters – exciting, but perhaps bankrupting.
Depending how hard and fast the Democrats push, what went around in 2018 may come around in 2020.
Meanwhile, even local Democrats are a bit uneasy. Richard Sternberg, the Cooperstown village trustee who is also a member of the state Democratic Committee, said he hopes that, since our mayors are Democratic (Oneonta’s Gary Herzig and Cooperstown’s Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch), the funds will keep flowing.
And, as architect of Democratic gains on the Otsego County Board of Representatives last year, Sternberg is looking ahead to creating a majority next year; he’s only one seat short.
Given the new Albany reality, becoming aligned with the ruling party only makes sense, his remarks suggested.
If anything, we here in Otsego County compounded the zag by voting heavily for Marc Molinaro, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Republican challenger.
Arguably, Cuomo’s done more for Otsego County than any governor in decades, Democrat or Republican, and did so by embracing an all-American principle: competition.
The governor’s concept – divide the state into 10 regions and make them compete for state economic-development funding, and may the best ideas win – was brilliant.
In the past five years, Otsego County has competed and competed well, winning millions annually through CFAs; (the next round of “consolidated funding application” grants is due to be announced in December). Plus, remember Oneonta’s DRI.
In the world of New York State realpolitik, here’s more good news in the returns.
While the county as a whole supported Republicans, Oneonta and Cooperstown are strong Democratic enclaves, supporting Senator Seward, the county’s favorite son, but breaking blue on everything else.
Oneonta, for its population, and Cooperstown, for its iconic status, are not to be ignored, whatever party controls the state political apparatus.
Whoever’s in charge in Albany, there’s a lot to be done here, so fingers crossed.
“We see a line of men, waiting in Pioneer Park,” said Larry Bennett, Ommegang’s creative director, as he outlined his vision for a commercial before the Village Board this evening. “What are they waiting for? The camera pans up to Santa’s cottage, and Mrs. Claus welcomes him inside. He goes to Santa, Santa opens his ‘Nice or Naughty’ book, and then hands him a bottle of Three Philosophers.”
COOPERSTOWN – With the deadline for tourist-accommodation permits nearing and a moratorium in its fifth month, Mayor Jeff Katz updated the Village Board, saying he foresees tighter regulations on housing for visitors to the village.
“Clearly, the future is going to be where tourist accommodations in the village are harder to come by,” said Katz. “We’re not saying you can’t have tourist accommodations, but we’re working on bolstering the definition of owner, occupancy and owner-occupancy.”